a lugubrious descent into the madness that is HP:OOTP. Will contain spoilers.

User Rating: 6.5 | Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix PC
It was with great trepidation that I began playing 'Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix'; not since I was a bright-eyed, pigtail sporting 11 year old, playing Sorcerer's stone, had I thought a Harry Potter game was any good. And yet, for the next few years, I'd still returned to purchase the next installments, glittering with the hope of wielding a magical avatar for a few mildly entertaining hours.

The game begins with some awkward cinematics, randomly thrusting you into a fight with dementors in the first few moments. Without so much as an WADS to move tutorial, you begin trying to cast a patronus to save yourself and your fat cousin. Clicking randomly, while instinctive, will be ineffective, and you may wonder briefly if you will be dying in the first minute of the game.

Eventually, on-screen instructions tell you exactly how to wiggle your wand and you are thrust back into another series of cinematics, skipping you past many interesting parts in the book, sometimes with little more than a brief voice-over providing important exposition.

When you finally gain control of Potter again, you're quickly taught a few spells by your godfather, Sirius, despite the fact that you are outside of school and would probably be swiftly re-arrested, but whatever. Sirius basically instructs you to wiggle your mouse like mad, and that's exactly what you do. No end-table is safe from your wild whirling. Nor are Ron's clothes from your extra-motion sensitive wingardium leviosa spell. Eh, why not, throw em' across the room.

Something I learned far too late in the game, after a particularly frustrating attempt at the task of moving a large, rotten ball of meat up a hill, is that you need never release the mouse button to cast; once you've wiggled accordingly, the spell will release itself. But for now let us assume no one has gotten the hang of this ridiculous system.

Your time at Grimmauld place is limited, being popped from room to room without so much as an 'excuse me' and then carted off to Hogwarts again.

Home sweet home. Things here at Hogwarts will be different from previous years, in that it is not strictly necessary to ever go to class, much of your time will be spent running errands for your schoolmates, dicking around, and slamming into walls.

In an attempt to make the game more cinematic, your camera view is neither first nor third person, choosing instead to take an angle depending on what room you are standing in. Occasionally, you can use the 'discovery' key to swing the focus, but this is unreliable at best.

Due to the new vastness of Hogwarts, running places is a new challenge in itself. Not just due to the fact that running into a new room will switch the camera angle, slamming dear Harry into yet another wall or railing, but the confusing layout, made somehow MORE complicated by the inclusion of Portrait Shortcuts. Luckily for us, unlike the previous games, where an un-named student of any random house would tell us where we needed to be next and run a short distance away, waving us in until we reached our goal, OOTP allows us to use the Marauder's map. Clicking on any name or place in the castle and being led there by inky footprints was so helpful I nearly cried.

Now, to the dicking around. You'll quickly settle into your new role as custodian. Cleaning up messes, mopping up spills, repairing broken pots and lighting lamps are your new hobbies. Your motivation in this is to collect 'Discovery points' glowing blue balls that will follow you around until they sink in. Initially, you may fear they will begin screaming 'HEY! LOOK! LISTEN!' but they remain mercifully silent. The same cannot be said of the ghost Myrtle, who will drop out of the sky on an extremely regular basis, freezing Harry to the spot until she has screeched out her extremely stalkerish lines and ascended again. Her point is always that there are new things to see in your secret room, which is actually just a bunch of rubbish and some live-action interviews, all hidden behind a butt-face portrait on the sixth floor. But besides the rubbish, your spells are 'made more powerful' although I never really noticed a difference, I still collected them obsessively.

There are also some Mini-games and you can explore around and mess with people by pointing your wand at them. Sometimes they will run away crying like the little nancies they are, and sometimes they will duel you, which is a frantic, mouse-jerking pile of pointlessness. I do not think it is possible to die in this game, which is another layer to the horror, as I perhaps would have thrown Harry from the viaduct bridge in a fit of frustration as he again randomly slammed into the wall, or those idiots Ron and Hermione, who follow you everywhere, are in my way AGAIN, simply because I turned around, and won't move.

As you run around the game, random students will say mean or bigoted things to you as you jog past, bashing yourself into the wall every few steps. Sometimes Harry will say something like 'like I'm listening' in witty response to this; I satisfied myself by usually picking up a nearby bench with wingardium leviosa and repeatedly bashing them in the face with it, an action with no consequence or reaction whatsoever.

The real challenge in the game I think you will find is dealing with your increasing frustration with its many small annoyances, the ache in your 'run' button finger as Harry runs across Hogwarts or down the million stairs to the 'boathouse' which is a totally real place that has always been at Hogwarts, by the way. Or the combat, or the AWFUL TARGETING SYSTEM, or that goddamn gobstones minigame. The game also has some weird moments, such as when you're clambering about tiny ledges high up on the castle, or when you briefly play as Fred / George or Sirius, or one of the duels you're scripted to lose in keeping with the plot.

Speaking of the plot, it follows the book exactly, if the copy of the book in question has about half the pages ripped out, and a couple more taped in with hasty additions.

The ending is unsatisfactory and leaves you in a thing called 'The Endless Day' which allows you to finish up anything else you didn't do, such as mop up the great hall or make the beds in the hospital wing. You can also find Luna's stuff that people stole and hid, if by hid you mean 'left lying in the courtyard or some BS'

In summary, the game is obviously deeply flawed. And yet, they've hit upon something: I actually really enjoy just fudging around Hogwarts cleaning up messes and finding secrets. So actually. I may have enjoyed it. A small amount. Very small.